Sunday was a big day


Two major events took place this past Sunday.

My hubby Carl and his teammate Nic finished the Absa Cape Epic at home in South Africa.

And the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the most prestigious race in Belgium, took place in the Flanders region of Belgium.

The Ronde van Vlaanderen is not a race I would usually take part in. Despite it’s gradeur and prestige, it is not a race suited to me as a rider. However, after my 10th placing at the Trofeo Binda World Cup the previous weekend, this year I was called up by my team to race. The World Cup points I earned at Binda would give the team a good car placing in the race convoy. The Ronde being such a technical race, with much possibility of mechanical problems for the riders, a good car position would serve the team well. I left warm Italy to make my way to freezing cold Belgium for the weekend, with good intentions to help my Belgium, Lotto Belisol team in Vlaanderen’s mooiste (Flanders finest) race.

On the eve of the race, already at the race accommodation with the team, I found out that the race organisation would not let me start. I was not on the team reserve list, a fact that the organisation often cast a blind eye to, but despite much pleading by my team manager Dany Schoonbaert, they were not willing to budge this time. That’s when I realised I would be a supporter for the day. I felt disappointed for the team, but being a part of the RVV vibe as a supporter was a new and exciting prospect.

Sunday morning came. I was in the centre of the RVV energy and hype, but I found myself feeling somewhat empty and removed. It was the strangest feeling!


Throughout the race, I followed my Lotto Belisol team. I supported and cheered wherever possible, but part of me was missing!

My mind and soul was in another place. I was frantically and anxiously awaiting news from hubby Carl, who was taking part in the final stage of his Epic journey!

This is when I realised just how hard it is not to be there for the one you love in one of the biggest moments of their lives!

The 2012 Absa Cape Epic was the hardest yet. Carl and his teammate Nic had been challenged in every way possible over the length of the event. I had chatted to Carl before the 8th and final stage, and I new just how mentally and physically drained he was feeling.

Maybe a piece of me was missing! I was with Carl in spirit. That’s the reason I felt so empty and drained. It was as if I was experiencing all the pain and suffering of the gruesome eight days of racing!

Turns out my Lotto Belisol team suffered much bad luck during the RVV race. Cherise Taylor punctured just before the first cobble section and never managed to rejoin the front group. Kim Schoonbaert crashed early on in the race and Ludivine Henrion punctured later in the race, at a very critical moment. I feel terrible, if I had started and we had a good car position, things could have been so different!

Sunday was a big day, it was a very trying day for me! Even though I did not race myself, I was tested in faith and strength.

I felt heart sore not being in South Africa to celebrate an awesome achievement with Carl and Nic!

I am so incredibly proud of them! They finished 23rd in the toughest Epic ever, with much bad luck and many challenges! The way they pulled each other through all the ups and downs was absolutely inspirational! They are both hero’s in my eyes!

Nic has posted some great pieces on his personal webpage which are well worth a read. He also wrote daily pieces for the Cape Times newspaper which can be read here.

Sunday was a big day and I’m glad it’s over!



One thought on “Sunday was a big day

  1. Sidney

    Hi Ashleigh
    I Just want to say congratulations on your 5th place at Fleche Wallonne Femme.
    That is a seriously impressive result. Your time to be at the top of womans cycling with Vos and co and be a name to be reckoned with will come soon based on your constant improvement over such a short carear.
    I watched from behind as you rode off the front of the VA/ladies group in the 2011 Cape Argus putting us sub-vets in some serious difficulty up Suikerbossie climb and knew you had what it took to be at the highest level.
    I will keep following your progress on tour as you are an exciting athlete to follow.

    All the best with the rest of the season.


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